The thousands who took advantage of near flawless weather yesterday to attend Memorial Day ceremonies held throughout Greater Newburyport were once again reminded that to those who fought to defend this country, the holiday means so much more than another day of rest.
The Civil War, fought between 1861 and 1865 and directly leading to the adoption of Decoration Day, the precursor to Memorial Day, was very much on the minds of those attending Amesbury and Newburyport’s parades and services. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, considered to be the turning point in the war and the largest battle ever fought on American soil, fought July 1-3.
In Amesbury, a contingent of Confederate troop re-enactors joined the city’s parade that kicked off at 10 a.m. yesterday outside the Amesbury Fire Department on School Street and marched down Main Street before filing into Landry Memorial Stadium. At one point before the parade, a man dressed as a Union solider approached the Confederate re-enactors and shook hands with one of them. As the parade wound its way down Main Street, the Confederate troops began singing Civil War-era tunes.
At Landry Memorial Stadium, high school students read from a text authored by Gettysburg National Park ranger and Amesbury native Chris Gwinn about Amesbury soldiers’ contribution to the battle. After the ceremony, a Civil War living history demonstration was held at the stadium.
Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer, wearing his Air Force National Guard dress uniform, told the crowd of several hundred of the city’s intention to spend $25,000 to spruce up its war memorials using free cash in the city’s budget. He also said plans are in the works to create a different fund with community activist Rosemary Werner to raise money to renovate the Doughboy statue outside Amesbury Middle School.